Drama Reactions & Reviews
Top 10 gateway dramas to hook your friends on
by | January 4, 2017 | 338 Comments

javabeans: Happy New Year, happy tenth anniversary, happy 2017, happy everything-that-will-be-better-than-2016!

girlfriday: Yay, I’ve never been happier for a new year to start! I still can’t believe Dramabeans is old enough to be a tween!

javabeans: Oh god, is it time for braces, backtalk, and bad attitudes? I’m still the boss of you!

girlfriday: You tell it!

javabeans: In keeping with the whole 10 motif, we thought we’d dust off our trusty ol’ Top 10 series, and honor our tenth birthday by shoving everything into categories of ten.

girlfriday: Because we like symmetry, and themes, and simple math.

javabeans: One of those things is a lie. But surely if a list is good, then a list with a vaguely conceptualized theme is better!

girlfriday: One of the reasons we wanted to do more of the Dramabeans Top 10 series is that it’s a good way to induct new drama addicts, and give new watchers a good place to start. What good is it being a drama addict if you can’t help others start their addiction?

javabeans: And what more apt topic for the first one than dramas that actually did hook new addicts? In the time we’ve been following dramaland and running this site, we’ve come to see certain patterns emerge, and surges of interest that are often driven by specific projects, which act as the gateway to the rabbit hole. Does that metaphor make sense?

girlfriday: It does to me. Are we all rabbits in this metaphor?

javabeans: I think we’re all Alice, only we get used to Wonderland, probably because we drank the Kool-Aid and things started seeming normal there. I’m not really selling dramaland, am I?

girlfriday: Thankfully, we don’t really need to sell dramaland, since if people watch a good, properly cracky gateway drama, it’ll sell itself and then they’ll never know what hit ‘em.

javabeans: With that said, here’s our list of Top 10 Gateway Dramas to Hook Your Friends On. Maybe these selections seem pretty basic to longtime drama fans and Dramabeans readers, but this list is more for the uninitiated.

girlfriday: Yes, these are the dramas you want to recommend to that friend who’s never seen a Korean drama and wants to know why you always have panda eyes after a long weekend.

javabeans: Or any weekend, really. It was tough narrowing selections down to just 10, since any proper drama addict has to have at least dozens of dramas on the favorites list, but we created the rules, so I guess now we have to suffer by them.

girlfriday: Stupid rules.


1. Boys Before Flowers (2009)

javabeans: There’s a reason this drama pops up with particular frequency in our Spill the Beans posts, where fans dish about how they initially got drawn into the world of K-dramas: It’s crazy addictive. It isn’t the only show to ever feature high school romance, or craft ultra-luxe wish-fulfillment fantasies, or make alpha heroes fall to their knees for penniless spunky heroines. Nor does it stand out for having an unusually beautiful cast; don’t get me wrong, they are beautiful, but so is basically everybody else in dramas these days. And yet… it had something crazy special to it, a special ingredient that made it incredibly gratifying to watch, which was probably in large part a madly entertaining dose of WTF-ery. And man, was it effective.

The term “guilty pleasure” gets thrown around a lot when talking about Boys Before Flowers, probably because the drama is flawed a million ways to Tuesday; even those of us who love the show recognize the ways in which it’s sometimes sloppy, frequently cheesy, and completely over-the-top. Yet there’s an undeniable lightning-in-a-bottle quality to this show, a magical addictiveness that defies logic, like MSG for the brain: This is junk, I shouldn’t be eating this, I may feel guilty in the morning but right now it’s maybe my favorite thing ever and I can’t stop. I say we never stop.

You May Also Like: Heirs, Dream High


2. Coffee Prince (2007)

girlfriday: I get asked a lot by friends and random strangers what drama they should watch first, and without fail I say: Coffee Prince. It’s just one of the best starter dramas I know and a safe bet, because everybody—even ajusshis, as my dad can attest—likes Gong Yoo. Despite now being ten(!) years old, Coffee Prince is one of those dramaland classic romances that ages like a fine wine, and still remains relevant and addictive and squee-worthy, long after copycats have come and gone.

One of the reasons I recommend Coffee Prince so often is because it has such an addictive one-line premise: A tomboy girl gets a job at a coffee shop that only hires pretty boys, and the boss starts to fall for her despite not knowing that she’s a girl. Right away it asks, What does it mean if he loves her anyway?—and one of the reasons this drama stands the test of time is that it doesn’t cop out in addressing that central conflict and does it in an emotionally gripping, heart-wrenchingly satisfying way. Any drama fan can tell you that crossdressing rom-coms are a peculiarly popular sub-genre of Korean dramas, and it’s really Coffee Prince that made that phenomenon happen. I happen to like all crossdressing dramas, but you know what they say about first loves in dramaland—nothing can replace it.

You May Also Like: You’re Beautiful


3. My Name Is Kim Sam-soon (2005)

javabeans: Sometimes you just need to feel like there’s a heroine who gets you—and a drama that appreciates you for who you are, and not who you feel, on your worst days, you aren’t living up to be—and no show does that better than My Name Is Kim Sam-soon, which was so much more than just another workplace romance or modern-careerwoman success story: It was downright empowering. It was a transformative show when it first aired, offering up a much-needed new kind of heroine; dramas till that point had featured primarily sweet doormats or plucky Candys, the more waif-like the better. And then Sam-soon charged in with her loud mouth and saucy attitude and refused to take guff from others; she took pride in her work as a patissier, didn’t let her boss push her around, and somehow balanced backbone with compassion. She stood up for herself in ways that were inspiring, heartwarming, and often hilarious.

Powered by Sam-soon’s endearing personality and smart writing that still holds up over a decade later, My Name Is Kim Sam-soon is the kind of show that strikes a chord emotionally at the same time that it’s tickling your funny bone, and has the added benefit of providing vicarious satisfaction for anybody who’s ever had to deal with an unreasonable boss or a pushy mom or a society that tells you you still need work to be lovable. (Spoiler alert: You don’t.)

You May Also Like: Dal Ja’s Spring, The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry, Oh Hae-young Again


4. Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010)

HeadsNo2: What makes Sungkyunkwan Scandal an appealing choice in recruiting potential converts is its knack for combining some of dramaland’s favorite (read: most addictive) tropes—crossdressing, reverse harem hijinks, fusionized history, and a hot rising cast—in a fun, adventurous story of youth friendship and romance that was breezy fun then, and still holds up today.

The fact that it’s set in the Joseon era is just icing on the cake, since there’s nothing all that historical about this fusion sageuk other than the setting, which paints a picture of the history and times surrounding our characters without getting too mired in the details. Sungkyunkwan took the crossdressing rom-com and found a way to raise the stakes by setting it in Joseon, where gender rules were stricter and the consequences were naturally higher. Being a scholar at that time was a calling strictly reserved for men, and a young woman who was determined to get the same opportunities as the boys had to actually become one of the boys. Cue: male garb, borrowed name, and new residence in the shared dormitories, leading to roomie hijinks aplenty, especially when she bested the boys at their own game. Buoyed by youthful effervescence and good-natured wit, this is just one of those dramas that makes it impossible for us not to smile along with it, and once the hook gets you, it doesn’t let go.

You May Also Like: Moonlight Drawn By Clouds, Arang and the Magistrate


5. Answer Me 1997 (2012)

girlfriday: This is an easy one for me to recommend to my friends, because it’s a story about my generation. Anyone who’s ever faithfully recorded their favorite TV shows on VHS and spent hours making mixtapes will watch this drama with a special kind of nostalgia in their hearts. But really, Answer Me 1997 made waves because it’s a universal story about anyone’s youth—what it’s like to be a teenager and not have things figured out, what it means when friendships falter, or turn to love. It tells small, relatable stories about regular kids growing up in regular families, but with sharp wit and a fanatical level of detail for the era it portrays.

On paper it’s just the story of six friends who live in one neighborhood in Busan in the 1990s, but the key to this drama’s success (which spawned an entire franchise) was the perspective of the characters in the present day, looking back on their youth fondly and withholding information about how the romantic pairings ended up. It’s the rosy-tinted perspective that makes the whole drama feel like a love letter to youth, and family, and friendship, and a simpler time. If you know anyone who loved Freaks and Geeks and My So-Called Life and The Wonder Years, this is the show for them.

You May Also Like: Answer Me 1994, Answer Me 1988


6. City Hunter (2011)

javabeans: City Hunter is my go-to drama recommendation when someone asks for a show to watch with a boyfriend/husband/partner, not because I like making gender-based generalizations about taste, but because when meeting other drama fans in person, this has been by far the most popular gateway drama named by the husbands and boyfriends in attendance. Its strength as a gateway show is that it has a little something for everyone: superhero vigilante capers, heartfelt revenge backstory, hero with a secret identity, youthful romance, high stakes, creative fight scenes, guns, blood, and intrigue. For an action drama it’s funny, for a political drama it’s fast-paced and exciting, and for a romance it’s not overly done.

With action that’s more fun-spirited than hardcore, City Hunter takes on a sort of Batman-lite feel: Our hero adopts a cavalier Bruce Wayne-esque persona by day, then takes down corrupt politicians as the mysterious “City Hunter” by night. Undercover capers and fighting for the greater good make this a feel-good watch, while the father-son conflict and relationship development give it that extra pinch of heart. Which it then might rip out a little. But in a good way!

You May Also Like: Two Weeks, Healer


7. Nice Guy (2012)

HeadsNo2: There’s nothing like a good melodrama to get you hook, line, and sinker, and Nice Guy stands as a shining example of the genre. Featuring Song Joong-ki (who turns everything he touches into instant crack, enough to be featured three times on this list) as a good man turned bad, then arguably turned good again, this drama was driven by the intriguingly ambiguous hero (or was he an anti-hero?) and his role-reversed relationship with the heiress who hated him, then forgot him, then loved him. Corporate takeovers, deranged family dynamics, and noble imprisonment don’t usually sound exciting, but they were mostly set dressing for some massively screwed-up relationships, like the nice guy who sets his sights on a rich heiress and then ends up becoming her protector, after taking the fall for a woman who then becomes the heiress’s enemy, and therefore his own. The initial ploy grows into a twisted mess of feelings and true intentions, with amnesia and betrayal thrown in for good measure. If it sounds convoluted, it’s because it is, but deliciously so—his motivations always seemed tantalizingly within reach but maddeningly opaque, which kept us on the hook till the end. It’s one of those dramas you pick up and just can’t put down, so use this on your friends who like their shows with just a little bite.

You May Also Like: Secret, Kill Me, Heal Me


8. I Hear Your Voice (2013)

girlfriday: Supernatural romances are a huge trend in dramaland right now, but I don’t normally suggest aliens and vampires right off the bat (unless I’m trying to convert a diehard Buffy fan), and I Hear Your Voice is what I like to think of as supernatural-lite. It’s mostly a funny rom-com that happens to feature a hero who can hear other people’s thoughts, structured like a legal procedural drama, and made addictive by setting a serial killer loose on our protagonists. It’s definitely a mashup, but it works because the story is gripping and the suspense keeps you coming back for more.

Minus the mind-reading, it’s basically an earnest human drama: A teenage girl saves a young boy’s life when she witnesses his father’s brutal murder, and bravely testifies in court to put the killer away. The little boy vows to protect her with his life, and makes good on his promise when they meet again ten years later. Oh, and it’s also an adorable noona romance with cohabitation hijinks—should I have led with that? More than anything, this drama just has great characters, and I’d especially recommend it to anyone who loves a strong heroine. Lee Bo-young’s sassy public defender still remains one of the toughest, funniest, and most endearing leading ladies I’ve encountered in dramaland, and she’s not even the one with superpowers.

You May Also Like: You From Another Star


9. Nine (Nine Time Travels) (2013)

javabeans: A lot of the dramas on this list are romance-driven, and that’s partly because Korean dramas do tend to favor romantic storylines, and also because romance is often the thread that gives a drama its addictive factor. But if you’re looking to hook someone with a drama that isn’t all about the lovelines, Nine makes for a great example of addicting with twisty-turny, intriguing, cerebral plot: A hero stumbles upon incense sticks that, when burned, transport him back twenty years in time (stay with me). What starts out as an exercise in curiosity quickly turns into both a revenge mission to right an injustice in his family’s past and a desperate fight against the ensuing butterfly effect. Moreover, because the time-travel is limited to exactly twenty years in the past, the hero cannot undo what he does in prior trips, and as the plot builds and problems start cropping up, the stakes rise in an ever-building crescendo that makes for a thrilling ride. The time-traveling segments get particularly mind-bendy when we see both past and present unfolding concurrently, on parallel tracks, though nifty directing keeps everything comprehensible. Nine is the kind of drama that keeps the brain engaged and buzzing with speculation, so it’s a great choice for the drama geek who loves crafting theories, analyzing storytelling rules, and mining a drama for clues.

You May Also Like: Signal, Queen In-hyun’s Man


10. Descended From the Sun (2016)

girlfriday: It’s funny, I wouldn’t personally put Descended From the Sun on my list of all-time favorites, but I would absolutely recommend it as a first-time drama to literally everyone and their mother, because it just has that mass appeal. For one, it’s not an old drama that forces you to add caveats like Ignore the weird fashions and ugly hairdos, and the slick production value just speaks for itself. It’s also a drama that needs no setup, since you have a soldier who meets a doctor, and they fall in love in a (beautifully picturesque) war zone.

One of the reasons Descended From the Sun makes for a good gateway drama is that it’s a straight-up romance with all the fat trimmed off—no romantic interlopers to interfere with the love story, no corporate takeovers to slog through. It’s pretty much all romance all the time, multiplied by secondary couples who are also cute, and sufficient life-and-death stakes to keep us on the hook. The real appeal of Descended is the fast-talking banter, where everyone always has the perfect comeback for every line; there’s just a synergy between the witty dialogue and the crackling romantic chemistry that works here, and it makes the drama a breeze to watch, and good bait to lure everyone you know down the rabbit hole.


338 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. ObsessedMuch

    Ah is it the first one in a series of 10 year specials? 🙂

    I can’t wait for others already 😛

    • 1.1 SJ

      My initiation drama was Dae Jang Geum though I hit the list right several times it seems. Initiated my mother with I hear your voice and Nice Guy, sister with Kim Sam Soon and friend with Sungkyungwan Scandal. Result, we binged on DOtS together

      • 1.1.1 Amie

        Of all things on this list, I will not recommend DOTS, it’s too recent. And cheesy, but if they like cheesy and glossing over then…
        I skipped Boys over Flowers coz Somebody said I’ll just get me so frustrated so I didn’t watch it. Drama Addiction starts with Coffee Prince for me, summer of 2012. After that it’s all the popular kdramas for me, didn’t know they were all from the Hong Sisters. You’re Beautiful, GF is a gumiho, My Girl, Delightful Girl ChunYang. / My Princess, Secret Garden, all the popular ones that runs for 16 eps. Then one stormy afternoon, I decided to check that Dae Jang Geum, thought it would be boring and relaxing at the same time. Who can watch 72 episodes anyway, right? Heehee, life became eat, work, watch Dae Jang Geum, done in 2 weeks. Never did watch anything as long as that, it was supremely good but can’t do that anymore coz you can’t play that at 2x.
        First Lee min Ho drama was Perfect Match, he is good looking even with his stoic acting back then but I never had a thing for him. He’s alright but nothing to go crazy about, y’know. I didn’t watch City Hunter for lack of time, he is ok in Faith, LMH getting to be human here. Heirs in 2013, aren’t you too old for a high school student, LMH?
        2016- Legend of the Blue Sea, LMH reborn. Maybe coz he already matured and maybe coz he got a girlfriend, acting is better and he even steals the spotlight from Jeon Ji Hyun here. And why is he so handsome now, whatever subtle “changes” that happened to his face, can’t detect it with my myopic eye but dang, he looks really good. Now I understand his appeal.
        Still not DOTS for starters, you want Song Hye kyo, go watch Full House, yes, get some Rainism as well.

    • 1.2 Ammy

      Coffee prince is undoubtedly the one which can be the gateway for all kinds of people. I could pull in my sister with it, who was really stubborn about her dislike of foreign language shows.

  2. qL^^

    Descendants of The Sun definitely has appeal for the first timer drama viewer. It got my two close friends hooked in k-drama and became big shipper of songsong couple even after drama ended.

    • 2.1 ain

      me too! my cousin started to love korean dramas bcos of DOTS . I have being persuaded her for years to watch kdramas. and finally she addicted to kdramas after i forced her to watch DOTS. One of the best moments in my life for 2016. hahahahaa . pardon for my bad english

    • 2.2 maemae

      Yup!!! DOTS is really one of the reasons why most people in my country are hooked in kdramas right now.

    • 2.3 MM

      The reason for my recent returning to Kdrama land is DOTS too!

      My first gate-opener to Kdrama world should be Goong from many many many years ago if I’m not wrong. But then I kinda stopped watching Kdramas for a very long time. Now I’m addicted to Kdramas again thanks to DOTS.

  3. neener

    I think you just made a loophole with your rules with the ‘You May Also Like’ so basically you were able to list dozens of dramas. Great one JB and GF!

  4. Lime Chilli

    What an awesome list! I agree with most of these, no wonder so many of us all over the world get hooked into kdramas – they are all so addictive, and *swoon* all so pretty!!

    My recommended Gateway Drama go to is Healer. Cos I got Hubby into watching dramas with me and the romance x action makes it awesome for both of us.

    • 4.1 Reena

      The first one that made me love KDramas was Full House… That was when i realized that Korean dramas can actually have shows that contain happy endings. haha Autumn in My Heart, Stairway to Heaven and Winter Sonata were my introductory dramas (they used to air these shows in my country in the early 2000s). The ones that really made me so addicted were City Hunter and Coffee Prince.

      If I was going to watch a show with a guy, I’d recommend Signal, Ghost (My Korean male friend recommended this – told me I’d like it because of So Ji Sub haha), and Sign. I Hear Your Voice is also a good gateway drama. I can still remember watching it during the daytime because the antagonist freaked me out. haha

      • 4.1.1 NutellaFitzgerald

        Yep…Signal, Ghost, I Remember You, & Nine would be my ‘guy’ list.

        Squad 38, too. That playground fight scene!

        And I feel like Three Musketeers would be a good and easy sageuk-type intro for a lot of folks without needing a lot of background knowledge or buy-in.

        I haven’t seen Sign yet. I’ll have to check it out. 🙂

        • bananachocolate

          Based on my cousin who got hooked to one particular drama and rewatched it three times, I recommend Gentleman ‘s Dignity for the ‘guy’ list. Although I think this drama depends on if the guy is fine with romance (and all the extra stuff korean romance throws in like those shower scenes lolol).
          The intro of the main guy characters definitely resonate with male viewers xD

          Full House OST was classical [in a way] ! My brother actually love their ost despite his so-so interest in the drama itself.

          • salt n' pepper

            That’s funny because my brother, who’s not a big fan of dramas, really liked A Gentleman’s Dignity. He saw me watching it once and next thing I knew, he grabbed a copy and finished the whole series on his own. LOL.

      • 4.1.2 varms

        It’s Full House for me too! Started all the crazy but I only stumbled on Dramabeans in the Coffee Prince craze! No looking back since then… ^^

      • 4.1.3 maemae

        Yes yes! Full house is my first drama too. Then the kdrama world haunts me until now.

  5. Striving8

    And it was You’re beautiful for me.

    • 5.1 Winny

      It was also You’re Beautiful for me! I still remember how fascinating I found every character and was completely hooked on dramas right away.

    • 5.2 kaekaed

      me too! (tho it was my 3rd drama – it was the real catalyst)
      it got my sister and niece into dramas as well.
      Pasta is also a good gateway drama I think.

      • 5.2.1 MapleSilver

        For me and for many many people it was Pasta because it was available on Netflix. But it was not an instant hook for me; it took about six to seven episodes before I finally sat up right and it was all Lee Seon-kyun and his chemistry with Gong Hyo Jin. I fell in love with him and so did my sister who was watching with me. Strangely it took many dramas after Pasta before I found another one that I actually enjoyed again, and I think it was You Are Beautiful.

    • 5.3 missjb

      same. it’s you’re beautiful for me. though I doubt I will be like this drama as much as I did if I watch it now. I still like my fluffy drama but I’m no longer interest if there is nothing I find compelling or interesting.

      • 5.3.1 queenjihyun

        A lot of kdrama fans get into kdrama world by watching one of the classic hallyu hits, such as Winter Sonata, Stairway to Heaven, Jumong, Coffee Prince, Boys Over Flowers, you’re Beautiful, Heirs, and lately now DotS. Some of them are really entertaining, most of them are addictive. One thing they all have in common is that they are really simple to watch and the characters leave you anticipating more even if the drama has ended, hence the vast amount ships and fanfics. Things like cheesy and cringy plots/dialogues/lines, production quality, quality (or lack of it) writing don’t really matter then. After you’ve been into kdramas for quite a while, you could never believe that you once were addicted to that certain ’gateway’ drama. I know I could never watch BoF or Coffee Prince, in fact any of those above mentioned dramas again. However cringetastic they were, I still have melancholic memories of them and those times.

        • missjb

          I agree. we might be unable to love it as much as we did bcause our personal preference has change so much over the years. the more you watch something you think is better, you tend to become more nitpicky. that’s why it’s better to never rewatch something you love so much in the past. so your fondness with that drama will stay with you

        • MIN

          my gateway was stairway to heaven… and I have watched that about four times start to finish, whenever I feel I need a good cry , same with Tree of Heaven.. 😛 bof i could only watch once, coffee prince I’ve rewatched it 3x, you’re beautiful I’ve watched twice, Heirs I barely finished it, and the rest you’ve mentioned I’ve never watched…

    • 5.4 Wag_a_Muffin

      Almost any of the Hong sisters shows (with one big exception) would be a great gateway.

      My mom’s was “The Greatest Love.”

      • 5.4.1 Gravity

        Alas not just one big exception because you must remember warm & cozy

      • 5.4.2 mwwg

        It’s interesting you say that. I like the Hong Sisters, but I find their shows very culturally specific. Like, poop jokes, Korean puns, jokes based on other kdramas/tropes, overt wackiness… So I don’t usually recommend unless I know the personreally likes poop jokes and zaniness.

        Master’s Sun is the exception though. I think most of that translates for Western audiences.

        I sell my friends on the multi-class, multi-age, female-centric aspect of kdrama. So, the Reply franchise or the Flower Boy series. Or dramas with my favorite trope, tough but fair CEO grandma, like Coffee Prince.

    • 5.5 Chandler

      I laughed at #2 because one of the first dramas I watched (Coffee Prince) was there, followed by the drama that brought me back for good (You’re Beautiful).

    • 5.6 Sweet&Sour

      Yes, it was “You’re Beautiful” for me too, but now this drama isn’t even in my top ten favorite dramas because I can see all its flaws, and how ridiculous the kissing scenes are (just frozen lol). I guess in the beginning when one is not used to k-dramas, whichever drama he/she watches first will probably end up being his/her gateway drama.

  6. Myka

    I’ve recommended Healer to several of my friends who haven’t tried a kdrama yet.

    20 episodes of Healer later, they’re stuck in dramaland, and they don’t ever want to get out of it.

    Because of this, I’ve gotten complaints about how I led them to a world that is so addictive it’s messing with their daily lives. Can’t say I regret my decision, though 😉

    • 6.1 chingoo

      Same! The one drama I recommend over and over is Healer. Gets them every time – hook, line, and sinker. 🙂

    • 6.2 MeLi, Go Go! ♥

      Me too! I recommended it to my besties and Eternal Love has became our anthem everytime we go to the karaoke room and we all spazz crazily over the MV

  7. lana

    For me it was full house😍

    • 7.1 Star

      Yea it was full house for me too

      • 7.1.1 G.J.

        I read both of these comments as “full horse”… Felt like I should say it.

    • 7.2 Jance

      Me too!!

    • 7.3 Dramalava

      Full house was my first! I remember finding my friend watching it in her dorm room. At first the plot seemed ridiculous but I somehow found myself walking her to play the next episode!!
      The drama that really got me hooked was my girl, though!! I didn’t know this chance encounter would lead to a 10 year addiction lol

    • 7.4 Diya_

      Full house for me too..me and my best friend were reluctant at first but we need something to release our stress at that time and reach the 1st epi of full house…we slept 16hrs later 😂😂😂😂😂😂

    • 7.5 Karen

      ++ lovely list of 10 couldn’t get better ! Adding another notable mentions “Full House”

    • 7.6 kanz

      Me too!!!
      OMG I still ship Rain and Song Hye Kyo till today…

  8. UJ

    Anybody who is close to me, be it family or friend has seen Kdramas, and the drama which I always make them watch is Boys before flowers. It just takes a max of 2 episodes and voila! They are hooked!
    I always warn them before hand that see this drama is incredibly cheesy and cringe worthy and there are many far better dramas present, however it is addictive. But BBF always and I mean ALWAYS does the trick 😂
    I have currently got my new SIL hooked to BBF hahahahah

  9. kanz

    Read the first drama and suddenly Almost Paradise pops out in my head.
    Almost Paraaaadiiiiseeee….

    • 9.1 zia

      My first kdrama was Jang Nara’s My Love Patzzi. But what made me a kdrama addict was definitely BOF. A part of it is because I’m a big Meteor Garden/F4 fan and a part of it is Lee Min Ho’s charm. He definitely nailed the role as Go Junpyo..

      • 9.1.1 kanz

        I’m a big Meteor Garden fan too!
        I must say LMH as Gu Jun Pyo is just perfect! Idk maybe because I was still highschooler at that time and my tastebud for drama is not developing yet (LOL), the drama is kinda interesting and addictive! I was more interested in KHJ and Kim Bum though than LMH at that time.

    • 9.2 realraul

      Omg! Me too! I can hear it in my head now

  10. 10 Lux

    Ahhhh love this post! And I can also relate to this on a different level, lol.

    Started out with Boys Over Flowers and boy was it so addicting that I ended up watching the first half in a day (and I started it at around 10PM, mind you). Being the newbie that I am, the next K-dramas that I watched were the mainstream ones. And by mainstream, I mean those which were suggested by international and teenager fans—which honestly sucks imo (To the Beautiful You, Nail Shop Paris). After about six months, I finally started watching airing dramas! I binge watched 12 released episodes of I Hear Your Voice on a Saturday and it was honestly an emotional day lmao

    My favorites (and the ones I suggest to the only person I managed to turn into a K-drama addict, aka my little minion) are IHYV, Signal, Healer, I Remember You, City Hunter and a whole bunch of OCN thrillers (Where are my TEN3, Bad Guys 2, Missing Noir M 2???? You cannot end them like that!)

    Can’t wait for more posts like this. Happy 10th Anniversary, Dramabeans!!!

  11. 11 Gw

    If I can add the list, I will definitely recommend ‘Full House’. But if I have to choose from the list above, my choice will be Coffe Prince, IHYV, or Sungkyungkwan Scandal.

  12. 12 UJ

    Also I am not too sure about “Nice guy” being the right hook, besides that I agree with the list. If I really wanted to put a melodrama here then I would have gone for “Shining Inheritence”. Besides that 6 out of these 10 dramas are among my favorite dramas of all time, so this list is legit bro!

    • 12.1 Lily left the valley

      For melo, I totally see why they picked it.

      I love Shining, but I get a much deeper/dark melo feel with Nice Guy.

      I’m not a big melo person, which is why a lot of shows I plan to rewatch someday I don’t because…ugh…so…teeth gnashy…where’s my stress ball…there has to be more junk food in the house, right? 😀

      Nice Guy is one of the top 3 melos I want to rewatch…someday. Just not yet. I almost did when DotS started driving me nuts. Yet as much as I loved to hate DotS, I still finished it and didn’t rewatch Nice Guy. Please understand that I like Nice Guy overall much, much. MUCH better than DotS.

    • 12.2 fan

      I also thought ‘why?’ on “Nice guy”. For me No 1 pick is DaeJangGeum or Heo Joon. And Damo or Princess’s man would be my next choice. And I can never forget ‘Piano’ even though it is old show.

      • 12.2.1 UJ

        Oh my! I completely forgot out “The princess’s man”, now that drama was epic!

  13. 13 Elle

    Here are the gateway dramas I’d recommend (and have recommended) to my friends who are new to kdramas.

    Rom-com/youth romance: Goong, You’re Beautiful

    Sageuk: Moonlight Drawn by Clouds, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Tree with Deep Roots

    Action: City Hunter, Time Between Dog and Wolf

    Mystery/Thriller: Signal, Nine

    Sci-fi/Fantasy: W

    Slice-of-life: Misaeng

    Melodrama: Resurrection

    • 13.1 Tom

      Elle, Nice list.

      Sci-fi/Fantasy – have you checked out: Joseon X-Files

      • 13.1.1 Elle

        It’s on my to-watch list. Is it as good as reviews say?

        • Janet

          I tried watching it back when it was all the hype, but found it painfully boring (very slow and somewhat confusing, especially the first episode). I tried a couple more episodes but again couldn’t get into the characters or the weird sci-fi. Depends on taste I guess, and in terms of fantasy dramas I did enjoy Nine and was briefly obsessed with Signal (though got bored by episode 9)

    • 13.2 Christina

      Goong was my gateway Kdrama! I literally spent 2 sleepless days finishing the whole series and then I moved on to My Girl.

      • 13.2.1 Abby

        Goong for me too!!!

      • 13.2.2 Light

        Goong was my crack.

      • 13.2.3 Moza

        Same here.. Goong was my first KDrama that got me hooked. I don’t remember how many times I replayed this show whenever i miss it.. even until now.. 😃

  14. 14 Mizminne

    I think by now I would actually recommend HEALER before CITY HUNTER …. I’M kinda surprised THE MASTER’S SUN is not on this list.

    I must admit I watched BOYS OVER FLOWERS and A GENTLEMAN’D DIGNITY first and I liked them both …but the true KDrama Addiction did not begin until I watched SUN …then they had me Hook, Line and Sinker!
    And it is also the Drama I managed too hook my friends with ..

    • 14.1 Quinze

      I would still say City Hunter first. Maybe it’s a bias from me because I loved CH and when I tried getting into Healer later (because I wanted that same kind of show), I honestly found it lacking. It was certainly full of slick fight scenes, but I thought it lacked a proper foundation story-wise. Maybe it was because I watched it much later after it aired but I couldn’t get into it quite enough to finish it through.

      I do agree about Master’s sun. Heh it was another Hong Sisters drama, My Girl, that was my gateway drama. I remember Delightful Girl used to be the other go-to crack drama a few year back.

      lol I never finished BoF but I LOVE Gentleman’s Dignity!
      I totally see why DotS is such a popular gateway drama. It was a pretty easy watch even if you found it cheesy/lacking in plot/sense because it had the it factor to keep you interested.

  15. 15 Satsuki92

    I love how you added the “you may also like” link.
    I found myself getting all competitive, seeing if I’ve watched most of the dramas you’ve mentioned.

    I think it was Jewel in the Palace that introduced kdramas to me. Ah Ji Jin Hee, you fine specimen.

    • 15.1 blue

      YESSSS DAE JANG GEUM FTW. Till today, I randomly pick an episode and binge watch the rest of the series :3

    • 15.2 starswillshine

      DAE JANG GEUM!!! 🙂

      I think this is a legendary drama that everyone should watch. It’s a sageuk that doesn’t require any prior knowledge of Korea’s history but it serves more as an introduction to ancient Korea’s culture. The plot is addictive and it makes us root for Jang Geum the whole time. A strong female who managed to survive all sorts of trouble through perseverance, wit and kindness. And it’s very memorable.

      • 15.2.1 honeybeez

        YES TO DAE JANG GEUM! I remember watching it with my whole family and my parents buying box sets because it was so addictive at the time 🙂 My mom will still gush over how handsome the male lead was hahaha

      • 15.2.2 Kiara

        There’s not much written about Dae Jang-geum in history so it was all Kim Young-hyun’s idea and Lee Byung-hoon interpretation that made it appeals more to women.

      • 15.2.3 Satsuki92

        @blue Wow that’s dedication right there. I did watch reruns on my local network, does that count? Haha!

        The visuals of DJG is amazing isn’t it? The food, the locations, the costume and Ji Jin Hee. I got so hooked I rmb searching for new sagueks to watch. i watched Dong Yi next.

    • 15.3 gadis

      Oh my God, yes. Jewel in the Palace was my very first kdrama, which I watched together with my family. But it’s not until almost 10 years later that I truly become a kdrama addict.

    • 15.4 Kiara

      Dae Jang Geum and Winter Sonata were two of the biggest hits overseas. Dae Jang Geum spread the hallyu wave across Asia and outside of Asia like wild fire.
      They appeals more to the general audience and I think that’s why they were two of the most popular dramas in and outside of Korea.

      I know my whole family got into K-dramas after watching Dae Jang Geum.

  16. 16 beezee

    Strangely I hooked 3 persons with Faith. Lee Min Ho’s addictive power does the trick. Now my friend is a bigger addict than me, she watches not only k-dramas, but she went for c-dramas and more. 🙂

    • 16.1 sorrynotsorry

      Faith was my gateway drama. It has romance, adventure, intrigue and two love stories. Unlike many, I loved Kim Hee Sun in this role, and I consider this LMH’s strongest role. I actually think it’s a pretty good one to get a guy interested along with Two Weeks.

      • 16.1.1 Flightey Gazelles

        I still maintain that Faith is the better female time travel drama to Moon Lovers. If only it had its budget and a better director.

        I watched Faith during my LMH obsession days and fell in love with Kim Hee Sun’s character. In fact, she was my favourite Kdrama heroine until Cheon Song Yi came along. Eun Soo was a strong heroine with clear motivations( unlike a certain Soo who almost made me go bald) and her reactions and antics were so relatable even her confusion till the end. And she was funny,brave, scaredy, beautiful, practical and everything.Still love her. Made me a Kim Hee Sun fan till today.

    • 16.2 Lord Cobol

      Faith wasn’t my first/gateway (because I started a couple years earlier) but it should have been. Far more addictive than anything I had seen before, and still one of my favorites. But as a gateway for total newbies I’m not sure. The beginning might hook them and then the middle might drive them away. The ending would re-hook anybody who got that far.

    • 16.3 dubir

      Faith was not my introduction but my very real addiction. I feel in love with a character….to this day its one of my favorite dramas.

  17. 17 Juliesean

    Agree with your choices. I’ll like to add; Queen InHyun’s Man and The Greatest Love. Almost paradiseeeeeee….. that annoying ost that was inserted into so many scenes unnecessarily. Somehow I couldn’t get into it cos it was so bad but yet so addictive. I still couldn’t stop watching it. Kim Sam Soon was THE drama that hooked me on kdramas since. It’s still the best Korean drama EVER.

    • 17.1 Quinze

      Hah, Kim Sam Soon I think still holds up to rewatches. It was one of those dramas where even the second lead female, even when she’s being evil never quite irritated me. Maybe it was because of her backstory but I loved how they handled everyone’s story.

      I think Queen InHyun’s man is on the list as a “You may also like” show. 🙂

  18. 18 Greyyy

    COFFEE PRINCEEEEE. It wasn’t my first Kdrama but I suspect it’ll always have its place as the first one I loved. Gong Yoo aside, it had everything that makes a drama spark with me – loveable, tangible characters with an amazing chemistry, a plot, beige well written and directed and the amazing OST that I still listen to. It just hit all the right spots when I first watched it and even now, when I rewatch it.

    I Hear Your Voice is another one I love to rec too. I love noona romances and this one is just amazing. ❤

    • 18.1 Greyyy

      I don’t know why ‘beige’ is there lol. I think it was ‘being’ instead

  19. 19 Sophia

    No mentioned of Secret Garden!?!?! Would have thought that would have made the list or even be on the ‘also recommended’ list.

    • 19.1 Rie

      I agree. SECRET GARDEN was my first K-drama watched. I got hooked in the first few scenes because of the music and the views!

      • 19.1.1 ivygirl

        I’m so glad someone finally mentioned Secret Garden. That was my gateway show. I was bored one weekend, and it was on netflix….next thing i know, its the next day, i haven’t slept and I’m crying/laughing uncontrollably.
        I haven’t looked back since.
        That sequined tracksuit snagged my heart and just never ever let it go.

    • 19.2 Sea

      I totally agree about Secret Garden. My first kdrama, and it started the addiction.

      I was browsing YouTube and randomly saw a thumbnail for Secret Garden Episode 1. I clicked on it fully expecting some weird, crazy Asian soap opera. But it was so great that I proceeded to watch every single Hyun Bin drama (including Ireland…and you don’t watch Ireland unless you REALLY like Hyun Bin).

      • 19.2.1 Sophia

        Bahahaha 😂 I must not like Hyun Bin enough cos I tried watching Ireland but I just couldn’t finish it.

        BOF was actually my 1st crack drama but Secret Garden is my ultimate crack drama which i would recommend to Anyone. 😆

        • Sea

          Lol…be happy you did not finish Ireland! Those are 16 hours of my life I will never get back…

    • 19.3 AniLoh

      My all-time favorite drama that can be watched anytime of the day, week, month or year. <3

      SeGa, Hyun Bin (with his dimples) and Ha Ji Won are the primary reasons why I am still stuck in Korean Dramas.

    • 19.4 Uyen_ah

      Totally agree! I thought AT LEAST Secret Garden should be mentioned under also recommended with DOTS. It was totally my gateway kdrama. Thank you Netflix, boredom and my now all-time crush Hyun Bin.

    • 19.5 ohlalaland

      I second Secret Garden. I first watched boys over flowers but it was secret garden that kept me up all night. Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won will forever have a special place in my heart.

    • 19.6 justanotherfan

      It must be some kind of mistake. Because aside from it being a classic, Secret Garden has magic that will definitely draw you!

  20. 20 Dongsaeng killer

    Coffee prince forever!!!!!!!!!!

  21. 21 MistyIsles

    This was nice trip down Memory Lane of the dramas created to my own addiction — only problem is now I’m itching to re-watch about three of these immediately.

    Technically my first drama was Playful Kiss, which I and my friends breezed through in a couple of weekends, but I didn’t consider myself hooked until the next one — yep, Boys Over Flowers. Then I needed MORE Lee Min-ho NOW, of course, and found City Hunter. Now I’ve seen all but three of the featured shows on this list: Sam-Soon, Reply 1997 (though I have watched 1988), and Nine (tried it and couldn’t stick with it, but may return to it again sometime, we’ll see).

    • 21.1 Cody

      Are you me!!? First PK – meh! Friends forced to watch BOF – ok alright, more LMH please!!! Then CH happened, it was hook line and sinker baby!! Haha

      • 21.1.1 MistyIsles

        Haha, nice. *virtual high-five* It’s all Lee Min-ho’s fault.

        City Hunter is just something special — even though I know objectively (and even subjectively) I’ve watched many dramas since that were better, it will always remain on its own (unrealistically high) pedestal in my mind.

    • 21.2 omoruyi

      why has no one mentioned JUMONG?

  22. 22 lemoncello

    Happy 10th DB!!! Love all your great recaps. ❤

    I watched Kim Sam Soon after had read your drama rating. And I am in love with this drama. For the drama done airing, to be honest, I will see your rating before waste my 16 hours plus watching a show. So, thanks a lot, DB.

    I took several friends to bandwagon K-drama with me, but I recommend different drama, depends on their personalities. I recommended Shopping King Louis to a friend, and recommended another with “My Wife is Having an Affair This Week.” Both really loved with my recommendation. The one I recommended with “My Wife” cried a lot during the show because it’s so relatable with her situation.

    But, I agree with some people to recommend “Full House” because it’s so light and popular back then. To be honest, me being back to drama is because it happened one time when I was re-running “Full House”, and I suddenly, I enjoy being “Alice” in your dramaland. 😍

    • 22.1 Kiara

      I’m not into rom.com but Kim Sam-soon is still my favorite in that genre.

    • 22.2 unuafida

      yeaah i toootally agree with ‘full house’. its one of my first k drama ive watched when i was in middle school..
      in my country, every kdrama’s fans wil recommend this drama
      and also in my country, this drama full house is sooo often being rerun in various national tv. maybe dozens of times..
      i live in Indonesia btw 🙂

  23. 23 fab

    He, other than Nine I’ve watched and liked them all. Great list, but there’s something missing…HEALER, I would recommend to anyone. Beginners and certified addicts, Healer is for you. 😉

    • 23.1 Chandler

      Healer was also suggested under City Hunter. Personally, it’s definitely the one I would recommend before CH because I like the characters more, but I get why City Hunter made it on the list.

  24. 24 Celine

    I’ve watched a lot of dramas before, but the one that really hooked me and made me into a kdrama addict is Coffee Prince. It’s truly a kdrama classic. I agree with everything girlfriday said about how this drama is the one the paved the way for crossdressing rom-coms. Moreover, it truly addressed its central conflict well in such an emotional way and I have yet to see another drama do the same. This is one the few dramas I pop in the player to watch again and again and again… And I thank drama gods for casting Gong Yoo as Han Kyul! He is just love. Uhm is it too much to wish for a Gong Yoo and Yoon Eunhye reunion?

    • 24.1 fab

      Yes, apparently it IS too much to ask for a GY&YEH reunion! Heck, it’s even impossible to see YEH back in a drama any time soon.

      • 24.1.1 Celine

        Yeah, my thoughts too but I’m still wishing /sigh Not sure how true the ones I read about her agency saying she’ll be back. She may be able to sign up for a new project, but the reception she’ll receive will be a completely different thing. Song Hyekyo was able to bounce back despite her tax evasion case. I wonder how YEH will be received if she ever returns.

  25. 25 Stardust

    Yay to city hunter
    My absolute favorite and honestly completely agree the only Kdrama that you can watch with your boyfriend partner spouse etc. they love the fight scenes and in general dig the daddy issues.

    • 25.1 Quinze

      That’s why I love it so much. It wasn’t too heavy handed one way or the other, romance or action plus a kick ass heroine that saves the day for once instead of always being the damsel 🙂 Plus LMH looked great!

  26. 26 Cody

    Mine was City Hunter!! Lee Min Ho is truly a hallyu star! He got sooooo many of us hooked. Whether it’s BOF, CH or Faith. That man is truly a gateway to kdramas!

    • 26.1 Light

      Lee Min Ho, though not my favourite, is undeniably a Hallyu Star. Ever since Boys Over Flowers (which I hate, but addictive enough for me to watch until 3/4 of the drama), I know my mother, my middle-aged colleague, 2 of my friends love him. My colleague had a quarrel with her husband because he refused to watch with her that gangster movie Lee Min Ho was in.

  27. 27 Jomo

    You are scaring me now. I was just searching for a good Top 10 List yesterday and nobody else had one I could stand behind. The one I formed was almost identical.

    Gong Yoo is the only thing that matters ever.

    SJK is in three of these, which probably isn’t a coincidence.
    My only exception is Descended because I couldn’t finish the first episode. EVEN with SJK.

    I may insert City Hall, which after 4 episodes I don’t think I left my computer, or What’s Up Fox, which, PIE.

    Thanks for doing this. Now I have a link to send when they ask, and they do, “Which of those shows should I watch?”

  28. 28 Hdcessa

    Ahhhh jb and gf bring back memories of SamSoon and Coffee Prince!! Joyfully discussing dramas mixed with Buffy, Freaks and Geeks, How I Met Your Mother, etc that’s what made read your recaps then and continue to this day which has grown with minion force. Another great top 10!

  29. 29 Jazz

    What! No You’re Beautiful! List is incomplete without it!

  30. 30 oshin

    for me they were princess hours & my girl

    • 30.1 Kay

      Yes! Princess Hours (Goong) was my first and will always hold a dear spot in my heart….in retrospect though, I don’t think it would be the first one I’d recommend to a new watcher…I think Coffee Prince or My Girl would be the one I’d recommend.

    • 30.2 Sriracha

      Same here! Goong/Princess Hours got me hooked on KDramas and I became a fan of YEH. Then I watched My Girl and became a fan of LDW. Then Coffee Prince was YEH’s follow up drama and I became a fan of GY.

      That’s why I just love Goblin right now! (GY and LDW for the win!)

    • 30.3 Quinze

      My Girl! My love for that show will never die. Seriously, so many rewatches for the ridiculousness.

  31. 31 Lily left the valley

    I can’t believe Heirs made its way on to this list, even as an also ran for not perfect, but I never felt it was a crack/lightning sizzle drama–I had a really hard time sitting through it, especially after the initial America scenes. (Oh, the anger!) I just kept hoping there’d be a pay off…instead it was another penny lost to the kdrama wishing well.

    Are there plans for a Top 10 biggest disappointments? I know we all have our favorites for that, so it’d be interesting to see what gets chosen and mentioned.

    Sungkyunkwan Scandal was my first kdrama. I stumbled onto it on Hulu, and I was a hopeless addict before episode 2 thanks to a certain someone’s Mane of Glory. It’s also one of the few dramas that I’ve rewatched so many times that I’ve lost count.

  32. 32 Seoulice

    Been watching Korean dramas since 2004, so I guess that explains why I’ve seen everything in this list except for “Nice Guy” which has been long overdue on my backlog.

    The first KDrama I’ve ever watched was “Lovers in Paris” while I was on assignment in India. 13 years ago streaming was never heard of in my world. So I had to make do with the screenshot and dialogue transcripts that was circulated on the net back then. Now, I can even watch them from my phone on demand.

    My list though would probably include “Foxy Lady” because I am such a sucker for a good noona romance and this specific one remains to be the best one even after so many years has passed.

    • 32.1 Dini

      If you want to try Nice Guy soon, please prepare yourself. It’s addicting but you need to have a lot of patience. This drama is a really dark melodrama and you might hate or love SJK’s character. ( I fell in love with him through this drama and I never regret it. ) My favourite drama ever because I love to torture myself and I love melodrama though I rarely watch that nowadays lol.

      • 32.1.1 missjb

        same. love Nice guy to piece. it’s still my fav lee kyung hee drama even Misa is the one who make me sobbing like crazy. it’s so ambiguous it makes me addict.

  33. 33 Sancheezy

    A guy just asked me what drama is good to starts watching KDrama.
    He likes star wars and world building so I recommended him Queen In Hyeon’s man,
    I did forget about the ending but I hope it works well for him.

    Sometimes being the old audience make you feel differently to lot of drama,
    It’s like I can’t recommend BOF to anyone above 25 without some disclaimer, or City Hunter to someone who really likes action setting without some Kdrama romance rules explained or giving them SKK when they are history buff.
    It all works differently and I always said, easy to drop and try again but if you watch old drama, it means you can marathon it and it feels less angsty,

    Sttill, I believe Coffee Prince is always the safest choice for modern classic drama, autumn in my heart for sad melodrama (since it has won bin) and dae jang geum for long saeguk,

  34. 34 conan

    My gateway crack drama was definitely Sassy Girl Chun-hyang. It was during the first Hallyu wave in my country. While everyone was oohing and aahing over Full House or Dae Jang Geum (both I would consider as strong gateway dramas in their own right), I just fell in love with the cute banter between Chun-hyang and Mung-ryung. The drama was so good, my sister (who doesn’t really watch dramas) love it too! We marathoned it in the original language over a weekend and it was a good time.

    Oh and congrats on your 10th year! Thanks for being there for all of us drama freaks. Here’s to 10 more, and then some!

  35. 35 Grapes

    My first Kdrama was Stairway To Heaven then One Fine Day, Shining Inhierance, Sad Love Song was in between on and off. But what hooked me totally into Kdrama world was 48 Days i even watched Qeen Seon Duk for Lee Yo Won, Wooow looking at this list it was a tragic start.

    I watched few episodes later from BOF but it didn’t hook me I remember that I skipped many episodes to the last one.

  36. 36 jb

    my first korean drama was boys over flowers.i recommended it to my friends back then and they got hooked to kdramas immediately.i still remember how we were madly in love with lee minho back then.

  37. 37 madame kim

    My gateway dramas were three-fold: Full House, Goong, and My Girl.

    Full House was a good addictive fun but didn’t particularly make me want to watch other korean dramas. Goong was also hella addictive and gorgeous to watch. Goong did slightly make me want to watch another korean drama. By the time I finished My Girl, I knew I was in it for the long haul.

    • 37.1 Kay

      This is literally me! My first was Goong, while waiting for new episodes of Goong (back then, they weren’t as quick as they are now), I started and finished Full House and then I was onto My Girl.

  38. 38 Dudun

    First korean drama i’ve watched is Autumn in My Heart 💙💙💙
    There’s noone who is more handsome and more beautiful than Won Bin and Song Hye Kyo until now 😘😘😘

  39. 39 Onion316

    I am a huge fan of k-drama and watch in obsessively, but I gotta say, I don’t like any of these dramas. In fact, l tried several before I knew there was such a thing as k-drama and not only did I not like them, they kept me from discovering this pleasure. Thus, for me at least, this list is a complete fail.

    • 39.1 Sancheezy

      I understand that the drama starter is not usually the best drama of all time because I don’t think I finish BOF or Nice Guy in one go,
      but I think this list is easy to digest and it give the glimps of what most Kdrama offer,
      romance in many setting,
      then you’ll realised that you gonna have your own version of things you liked when yo familiar with the world of Kdrama,

      Looking back to many famous drama, I can’t really give my honest opinion since it feels like I notice the flaw more and more each year, my comment usually like “give it a 5 episode try out” since I can see why they can’t like the drama more than why they would like the drama,

    • 39.2 sorrynotsorry

      @Onion316 Now I’m interested in what was your gateway drama?

    • 39.3 Dramalava

      I curious about your list too Onion! Let us know what you would recommend 😄

      • 39.3.1 Onion316

        Queen Sean Duk made me aware that there was such a thing as Korean drama, Secret Garden got me actively looking for more k-dramas and My Princess was the first one I stayed up to the wee hours of the morning to finish. I’ve never been the same since.

  40. 40 blo

    I love lists! Mine was Sorry, I Love You. Although, the reason I couldn’t stop watching was because I was so depressed, I had to know what happened before I could sleep. Yet I loved it and was obsessed with the couple. These days, I can’t do melo since most of them turn into mopey mope territory.

    Coffee Prince was another obsession. Then Healer came along.

    I would love to see more of these lists!

  41. 41 pyromaniac

    Haha in nz we had this Korean channel (i miss it so much) and first drama i watched was princess hours (goong) it was not showing as regularly as i wanted so i binge watched it and cry. Then rewatch it on tv and cry. Thus with my first k-drama complete i was hooked. Never watched coffee prince although my then wife did (she binge watched without me).

  42. 42 Maggie

    My fave all the times are:
    Dae janggeum, queen seondeok, shine or go crazy.
    Oh well, bad guy is the most heart aching to watch (han gain and kim namgil just soo cute together)
    And queens classroom just as fresh as the kids. If I could add another genre I’d love master sun and vampire prosecutor.

    • 42.1 Sancheezy

      Bad Guy Kim Nam Gil make me realised that reality is hard,
      it hurts so much!
      really love the opening song

      • 42.1.1 Maggie

        Ikr! His life in so much agony but the rest just so realistic yet beautiful
        Yeah the song was so emotionalback then, still echoed in my head tho

  43. 43 Taeki's Parking Teacher

    I converted my sister using Rooftop Prince. And she was never the same person again.

  44. 44 blueamelie

    Great list, and double yay to Lee Min Ho – this guy gets them all…

    My addition to the list would be Healer, Secret Garden and Scent Of A Women – all three hooked me in an instant…

    And – even though Mary Stayed Out Last Night can’t (by any means) really keep up with the other really awesome dramas – the first episodes are great fun to watch. Moon Geun-young and Jang Keun-suk simply have great chemistry and are super cute together.

  45. 45 kanz

    The list is so well-done!
    I can attest the dramas on the list are highly addictive.. well except the ones I didn’t watch ofc like SKKS, CH and Nine.

    If I could recommend some dramas to my friends, I will recommend Kim Eun Sook’s dramas first! Her dramas are like crack to many people, Lovers In Paris, Secret Garden, Gentleman’s Dignity, even Heirs (I think HS student tends to love Heirs), DOTS and Goblin. Eventhough I’m not a fan of her writing, but I could say she always write mostly light and funny dramas and knows exactly what the audience wants. She knows how to amp up the crack factor and how to present the heroes/heroines as the most attractive ones, case in point DOTS where everyone and their mother in my country have massive soldier fever.

    For sageuk/history lovers, I think it would be good if they try shorter sageuk first, probably Splish Splash Love or 16-20 eps sageuk like Arang and Moonlight.

    For the ones who love quirky, heartwarming stories, I’ll recommend tvN’s dramas, like Flower Boy Next Door, Let’s Eat and Let’s Eat 2, Oh My Ghostess, and Reply series.

  46. 46 gadis

    It was I Hear Your Voice for me. I thought it was quite a weird gateway for a kdrama addict, but turns out you also put it on this list. Haha…

    Though there was some weird case, like my sister, whom I could finally coveted into a kdrama lover after Phantom/Ghost. It was a very unusual gateway. But, whatever. The only important thing is now I have someone whom I can talk with about kdrama. 🙂

    • 46.1 gadis

      *whom I could finally converted

    • 46.2 Flightey Gazelles

      I’ve wanted to try Ghost but have been reluctant after Village: Achiara secret. Based on the posters it just seemed so…..bleak.

  47. 47 K

    My first Kdrama was Kim Sam Soon, fondly remembered as the Korean Bridget Jones. It was certainly transformative as it made kdramas step out from the unrequited-love-terminal-illness-sob-story zone.

    For kdramas recommendations, I would go for as little romance as possible, as the common perception that discourage friends, especially guys, is still that Kdrama is all about mushy romance stuff.

    Here is my top 10 list, selected for plot originality and good pacing (as a slower paced drama would put off a newbie)

    City Hunter
    King Of Dramas
    It’s Okay It’s Love
    I Remember You
    Kill Me Heal Me
    Liar Game
    Vampire Prosecutor
    Tamra The Island

    • 47.1 August

      If you watch Tamra the Island be sure to view the Director’s cut.

  48. 48 Stardust

    A shout out for healer – for me it will make the main list- But I understand too why not – to a certain extent – it’s not a typical Kdrama and didn’t take to everyone. My mom dropped it – Ahjuma inclinations are the meter to behold. She actually enjoyed heirs more. (Which for the life of me I can’t understand. And it’s not even LMH who’s the hook for her- in her words – the story (whhhhat story!??) that’s KES power for u. She just writes stuff with mass appeal although I tend to shy away from these dramas as it’s all fluff after you see through the sharp banter etc

    If I have to pick a one and only drama – it will be Kim Sam soon. It is a complete classic. Funny yet touches your heartstrings every time. And Hyun Bin- so young and just such chemistry with Sam soon!

    • 48.1 Stardust

      Oh on second thoughts how can I miss out Boys over flowers
      – like what dramabeans team say it’s just such a wreck to watch it. Exactly Like stuffing your stomach with MSG laced food. U know it’s bad but you just can’t believe how delicious it taste. LOL I watch every episode thinking how ridiculous and illogical the plot is, then wait for the next one and drool over LMH. But it’s not him- Gu Jun Pyo is a career defining role, he was lucky and blessed to get it. I say it that regardless who played GJP, it would have still made the person a star. Evidence: All 3 versions (Taiwan, Korea and Japan) whoever they played that part shot to stardom (or for Matsumoto Jun- reached another level of stardom)

      • 48.1.1 loveyoumomo

        I started watching dramas mid 2004 when I discovered Full House while watching Jay Chou music videos on youtube. And my life was never the same again.

        With regards to the GJP role, I totally agree with that statement. I haven’t watched the Taiwan version (I will this year) but the Tsukasa/Jun Pyo role is such an interesting character arc to watch. Rich spoiled chaebol who falls for the poor candy girl (I prefered Makino much more to the K version) and all the other shenanigans alongside school life. I started both versions without much expectations as I had never heard of either actor before, Matsumoto or Min Ho, I ended both dramas thoroughly in love with their portrayals of it. I feel that Matsumoto delivers on a greater emotional level and the storyline was better in the Japanese version. I will never forget how pitiful he looks when he waits for her in the rain after that terse “x-pm, meet me at this statue” line he gives Makino. Anway, both were great and I look forward to discovering the joy of the Taiwanese version this year, major plotholes aside.

        Boys Before Flowers was also, conveniently, the drama that hooked my friends into the S.K drama world and we are actually planning on a trip this September (at long last TT__TT) for which I cannot wait. I ended up rewatching the first 3 episodes at least 5 or 6 times as we had to watch the show from the beginning each time another person joined us. It was quite a ridiculous time which I will forever remember with such joy. We used to meet and cook an epic dinner and the sit down to watch the two episodes the day after both finished airing and were subbed. Good times indeed!

        You’re Beautiful was another that got my best friend at uni hooked. We were hanging out in her room as both of us went back to uni a couple of days early after the Easter holidays and she said, “Since we have time, put on one of those korean dramas that you are obsessed with” and that was it. She was converted!

        Good times. Its so humbling to think that all of my friends who I would never long to be without, that, I am lucky to share this addiction with them. No matter our differing preferences each year, there will be one we are all gaga over and that in itself is priceless <3

        Happy 10 years to Javabeans, Girlfriday, HeadsNo2, all of the other minions, old and new that we've all been spoiled year in/year out by and to all the wonderful beanies that make this wonderful site such an oasis for everyone who needs to take a moment of respite from *life* 😛

  49. 49 Dreamer

    Ah!!! what have you just remind me JAvabeans??? “I Hear Your Voice”.. oh! i need to watch it again now… it was really a fabulous drama where i first saw Lee Bo Young… she was such a badass and that was actually the rise of Lee Jong Suk… I have to Study but now i have to deal with it also…
    also Reply Series is great to watch… i still have to watch Nice Guy… Descended From The Sun was So So.. Take Care All.. 🙂

    • 49.1 Dreamer

      And Sorry!!i forget to mention but for me the gateway drama was Personal Taste… 🙂

  50. 50 Ava

    Samsoon is my all time favorite, and made me a big fan of kim sun-ah.

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